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Innovation Lab

As a result of our work with young people on projects like Sports Unlimited, we've developed innovative qualitative research technique, collectively called our Innovation Lab. This is a constantly evolving menu of data collection options which are tailored to meet the specific needs of any project and its participants.

Traditional methods of data collection are not always particularly fun, exciting or engaging for young people. As such, we've developed a portfolio of techniques specifically designed to engage them, including hard-to-reach groups. We believe that evaluation should be fast, easy and engaging. So we've designed bespoke evaluation packages, including menus of tools that projects or participants can select from.

Using techniques such as quizzes, graffiti walls, 'vox pop' style interviewing – often led by the young people themselves, caption cards and photography, we can gather valuable insight on the subjects' terms rather than our own.

We also offer insight workshops which make use of qualitative techniques such as the World Café approach. Our team are trained to facilitate these types of sessions and to derive the maximum amount from contributions. We collect high quality data in the ways which are best suited to the target audience and location and which minimise the time requirement from participants.

Innovation Lab products


Audiences of up to 80 people can respond to questions using an interactive handset, promoting engagement in a fun and lively atmosphere. Instant feedback is available in the form of summary statistics and graphics.

Video diaries

Appealing to the 'Big Brother' demographic, video diaries are proven to be an excellent way to engage people by using new technologies. This process can be automated to remove the need for a researcher's involvement and can provide young people with a forum to express themselves. Video diaries are sometimes done in groups and excerpts can be used as promotional material or to illustrate the results of an evaluation.

Exit polls

A 60 second 'postcard' survey is designed to capture feedback quickly and efficiently and demonstrates the immediate impact of a project or event.

Young reporters

Voice recorders or video cameras can be used to capture peer-to-peer interviews in this light-hearted and fun way. Sound bites from the participants can be edited into a CD or DVD and showcased via websites, radio broadcasts or podcasts. We mentor 'young reporters' and help them to develop their media skills and experience.

Participant diaries

Diaries allow participants to complete a section per session throughout the course of a programme or scheme. Levels of engagement and motivation can be tracked and statistics/graphs produced as illustration. Audio or online diaries can be developed if required.

'Design your own…'

We use a range of interactive games to help young people to think about what they enjoy doing and what components of activities and sports might appeal to them. This can be important to enhance delivery or to inform the design of future services.

Photo caption sheets/cards

We use relevant photography, including photos that young people can take themselves with their mobile phones, to gather data about thoughts and feelings and to collect feedback on their experiences.

Sticker sheets

We use visual tools, such as sticker sheets, when working with some young people. Through our links with the Centre for Education and Inclusion Research, we can also work collaboratively with early years experts to design evaluations for very young children, including those under five.

Our team

We're a mixed methods team of 17 full-time staff and use quantitative and qualitative techniques in tandem where possible to derive the maximum insight for our clients.

Our Innovation Lab is used extensively with young people – for example the current School Games evaluation. In addition to our ethics procedures, we have strong safeguarding procedures in place and all staff working with minors are required to hold current CRB certificates.

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